Sunday, December 12, 2010

Everything Old Is New Again

The three Sunday morning shows and most of the news media have totally ignored Sen. Bernie Sanders and his historic and heroic stand against what he knows to be wrong. The Senate servers crashed on Friday there was so much traffic. Yet it hasn't been covered except very briefly on last Friday's Olbermann and Maddow shows.

The Obama administration - fully aware that Bernie Sanders and his mini-filibuster would have been the lead story on all three Sunday talk shows - engaged in a nifty bit of political theater (I guess, despite rumors to the contrary, that the White House does know how to grab the spotlight when it suits their purposes).

President Obama tapped former President Clinton in order to steal the attention away from Sen. Sanders.This  gambit was calculated, obvious, crass and cynical. And the news media went right along with the charade by focusing on the Clinton press conference rather than on one elderly man rising in the halls of the Senate to take a stand for truth.

What we're seeing today is the same thing that legendary director Frank Capra showed so brilliantly in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - only instead of the truth being suppressed by Boss Jim Taylor and his "Taylor-made" machine, it's now our modern media conglomerates trying to sweep Bernie Sanders and what he did under the rug by not publicizing it.

Millions of Americans watched Sanders and thousands called their Senators and Congresspeople - and you'd never know it. There's a network media blackout - because for 8 hours, Bernie told America the truth - and anyone who watched it knew they were hearing the truth. But the powers-that-be don't want us to know that truth.

My hat's off to Sen. Sanders.  As I watched him speak, his white hair ruffled, his voice giving out a couple of times, fleeting images of Frank Capra's iconic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington came to mind, particularly the scene where the hard-bitten reporter Diz calls in the story of Jefferson Smith's filibuster: 

"This is the most titanic battle of modern times. A David without even a slingshot rises to do battle against the mighty Goliath Taylor machine, allegedly crooked inside and out."

What is Boss Taylor's response to Smith's filibuster? Just this:

"If he even starts to convince those Senators, you might as well blow your brains out, you know that, don't ya? This is the works, Joe! Either we're out of business or we're bigger than we ever were before. We can't miss a trick. We can't stop at anything until we've smashed this yokel and buried him so deep..."

And, later, Jeff Smith's words to Senator Paine when it appears that all is lost:

"I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.' And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine. And I loved you for it, just as my father did. And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them. Like a man we both knew, Mr. Paine."

Obama and Clinton and Boehner and McConnell and Bloomberg and Axelrod and Reid and Pelosi and Geithner and Summers and Goolsbee et al are all part of the same rich man's system - they are the collective modern reincarnation of Boss Taylor.  They feed us platitudes like "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and "this is the best deal for all Americans" or "we don't have time to make a better deal," etc.

However, the more I learn about the provisions of this "deal," the less I like it, especially the estate tax provisions and the reduction in payroll tax. I'm self-employed and nearing age 65.  I really don't want a reduction in my payments to Social Security because that means I'll get less in my check in three years.

An article at the Huffington Post ( shows that in this so-called tax-cut deal there is one group who will see their taxes actually go up - those making less than $20,000 a year! That is a stunning announcement. But why should anyone be surprised? The poor have no lobbyists, no glitzy spokespeople, no one to argue their case. So it's no big deal to our modern power brokers that the truly poor would be the one group penalized by a deal that purports to cut everyone's taxes.

As Sen. Sanders pointed out in his "long speech" on Friday, the average net worth of white Americans is between $47,000 and $67,000, but the average net worth of Hispanics is $8,000 and for African-Americans, it's $5,000.  Guess which ethnic voting blocks fall disproportionately into the below-$20,000 annual income bracket?  Guess which ethnic voting blocks might not be too happy about the fact that their taxes will go up under the Obama-GOP giveaway to the rich?

The REAL truth is that the best thing for the entire economy would be to allow all the tax cuts - except those for the very poorest  - to revert back to the Clinton rates. It would add revenue to the government and allow us to start paying down the $800 billion we currently owe to China.

The bond market went into a tailspin the minute this rich man's bailout was announced. International markets know that this piece of pork adds billions more to our deficit and makes us weaker rather than stronger because, in order to pay for it, we are going to have to raise our national debt ceiling.  (Hey, y'all, wait until that little political donnybrook arrives on the floor of the hallowed halls of Congress sometime in the next few months!!)

Maybe it's time for all of us - left, right and center - to face the fact that the free lunch is over and that we - as a people - all have to tighten our belts and help our country out by paying more rather than less taxes in order to fund the services and programs we have all come to depend on.